The Christmas Tree: A Story and Video

The Christmas Tree: A Story and Video

Jo Nuske posted 27 Nov 2014

Chapter 1.

A round of applause greeted the final bars of the music and marked the end of another dance piece of enthusiastic young primary school children.    Joslin regarded the mandatory attendance of these painful end- of-year concerts as another duty of being the grandparent, but “Oh My God” she thought to herself, “they go on forever.” The droning voices of committee heads gave financial reports of the school’s progress as she shifted uncomfortably to relieve the painful cramp in her legs and thought longingly of home and a glass of wine. She almost groaned aloud as the Headmaster announced the next round of awards to be given.

Joslin’s thoughts drifted, but were jerked back into the reality of the room when she heard her grandson’s name announced. She leaned over to her daughter and whispered ” Did you know that Ricky was getting an award?’.         “No, it’s news to me”, Debra whispered back.   Mother and grandmother sat up straighter as they strained to see through the sea of heads in front of them as the very proud seven year old boy walked up on stage to receive and display his beautiful trophy for musical excellence.

Slim and lithe, he walked with the natural grace of a dancer and his face glowed in the joy of being singled out for recognition. In that moment, a sense of remembrance hit Joslin with a strange time-looped notion. She suddenly remembered being in grade 3 and being called out from a large assembly of students to receive a similar award. She remembered how important it had felt and how proud she had been. She remembered the joy of achievement, the feeling of success and the compatriotism of class mates. She remembered what it felt like to be truly happy and in that moment she realized that she had somehow lost that light-heartedness.

The now 70 year old woman, her body betraying her in her older years, her heart dulled by lost love and her spirit squashed by too many of life’s challenges spent the remainder of the recital in a daze. She was caught in the world of memory, but was dimly aware that there was something important to learn here: as if a door was waiting to be opened.

She existed in this fog during the final rush towards the exit doors as excited children bid good night to their friends, exclaiming over the success of the night. She was hardly aware of the hug and exclamation of congratulation she gave to her grandson as he excitedly displayed his statue to her. She was hardly conscious of unlocking her front door and letting herself into the small home that she lived in alone. She automatically poured herself a small glass of wine from the fridge and wandered into her neat, but relatively bare sitting room.    All of a sudden the room looked unfamiliar. In a moment of complete clarity she saw 63 years stretching back behind her, as the girl she had been at 7 seemed to be demanding an answer. “This is not what I wanted. This is not what I thought I would be”          “Where am I living?” “What is this place?” “How did I get here? “

Chapter 2.

Joslin hadn’t put up the Christmas tree again. It had all seemed just too hard and such a waste of time and energy. In fact the whole Christmas joy had become rather humbug. Too much stress, not enough money, not enough time, not enough of anything.    As she stood in the centre of her room, looking down into the clear liquid of the wine sloshing in its glass, she felt an overwhelming sense of loss: loss of youth, loss of hope and loss of purpose. She became aware of an emptiness she had not even allowed herself to acknowledge. A reluctant tear escaped down her wrinkled cheek which was quickly followed by another until she found herself sobbing in a collapsed heap upon the floor.

Chapter 3.

She must have slept because she was obviously dreaming the tinkling sounds of a bell. As she lifted her head, her stiffened muscles and old bones gave testament that the hard floor had left an impression. “Ouch”, she groaned as she moved stiffly into an upright position.   The lights she had turned on, on her arrival still glared brightly as she squinted towards the wall clock. 3.00am.                                                                                                                                        “Oh for goodness sakes”, she grumbled in irritation.                                                                                                                  “And what is that noise” she said out loud into the night. The tinkling sound was joined of a sudden by the soft beating of a drum, and then what sounded like a soft trumpet. Joslin stopped to really listen, thinking that they must have originated from outside, but no, it seemed to be coming from under the house. Curious, she cocked her head to tune into the direction of the music then cautiously decided she had better investigate.                                                             “How could this be coming from under the house?” she said out loud. The storage room underneath had been undisturbed for quite a while and was always firmly locked. Climbing down the stairs, the sounds did seem to be getting slightly louder.                                                                                                                                                                                “Yes. It seems to be coming from there, but how?” she asked herself as she grabbed the old fashioned key from its hook. With a slight feeling of nervousness, she slowly and gently unlocked the door, but as it creaked open, the music ceased.           “I must be dreaming,” she pinched herself severely and stepped back to close the door again. “I must be getting senile,” she chuckled to herself. However, as the lock  fell back into place as the big wooden door closed, she again heard the music in her mind.

“That was it! The music was in her mind! It must have been one of the tunes the children sang tonight.”       Joslin sighed in relief but stopped abruptly when she heard a voice say quite crossly, “Well are you going to leave us in the dark again this year?    We have been waiting for EVER and you just keep ignoring us!                                                  “What? “, she actually answered in a shocked voice.                                                                                                                 “Yes, you! Open the door!”                                                                                                                                                                       A little non-plussed, Joslin allowed the censorious voice to command her into fitting the key into the lock again, quickly flicking the switch of the bare-bulbed globe to flood the room with light and surprise the intruder. All was eerily still. The neatly packed boxes remained on the shelves where she had stacked them and yet from one, the continued sound emitted like a muffled hum.     As she reached up to take it off the shelf she felt a buzz of energy travel up her arms, so that the very hairs on her arms stood up.                                                                                                                                        “This bears some investigation”, she thought determinedly, “but not in here”, she decided as she carefully carried herpackage back to the living room she had fallen asleep in.   She placed the box on the coffee table and sat on the lounge, considering for a moment the effect this particular box had had on her. The cardboard exterior had her husband’s handwriting on it, and even though he had passed away some 5 years before, it still gave her a pang to see it. “Xmas Kid” he had written on the outside.   As she ran her fingers over the faded writing she was filled with the loving sadness of memory. She and Roger had always put up the Christmas tree together, but it had remained in this box since his death.                                                                                                                                                                                         A strong vibratory voice that seemed to come from inside demanded, “Let us out!”

Taking a deep breath and prompted by curiosity and a queer sense of magic, Joslin tore off the sealing tape and spread the box flaps wide. Revealed inside was the rich variegated branches of the Christmas tree she had always loved. Nestled within the packed branches sat a myriad of colorful decorations, kept clean and dust free within the confines of the box’s safety and right on top was a sparkling star. That star had always been the last touch of the tree and had carried a special ritual that she and Roger had always recited in laughing unison: 

Christmas star, may you shine bright
and help us know what’s wrong or right
Illuminate our lives with love
While you sparkle up above!

It was the first time Joslin had touched the Christmas tree in such a long and lonely time, that she couldn’t help but begin to lift the branches and ornaments gently out of the box. Then she stopped. Could she bear to decorate this tree without the help of her loving friend, companion and lover of 40 years? They had so laughed and celebrated the occasion together, that to do it by herself almost seemed a betrayal of that memory. And then she heard again the soft chanting of words and music.
The base for the strength, foundation and balance
The next for the growth, the skirt that will dance
The waist for the promise of centred awareness
The throat for the love of speaking the truth
The head for the reaching of life’s expectations
The top to reach up to the world’s joy and peace

A strange compulsion to assemble the dismantled pieces of the tree, saw her methodically inserting the base into its holder and raise the supporting stick to be locked firmly into place. The old rhythm of the tree construction ran through her mind as she inserted the pine-shaped branches into its perfect harmony to stand tall in the middle of the room. She could almost feel the old branches flexing their arms in the re-discovery of its own potential.
Each small and large decoration seemed to have a life and personality of its own and as each was lifted from its wrapping, she remembered. She and Roger had always used this time to review the year just passed and discuss the plans for the coming year’s adventure. Blue was for truth, and red for belonging, green for healing and gold for abundance, silver for nurture and purple for spirit.   The tinsel bound the paths of their lives together. Small ornaments brought forth memories of laughter and joy and the simplicity of sharing. Some were glamorous and others made by childish hands from the past but each had a message; to remember to renew and to live.     Well, Roger wasn’t with her anymore and it was time to accept that and let him go.
However, there was someone this night to help her decorate her life-tree. Her own seven year old self had arrived to bear witness to her past and future. As Joslin took each ornament from its wrapping, she told her stories, some sad, some funny and others from the depth of her soul that no other person would know.   She took the time to revisit old hopes and saw them for the childish dreams of naïve youth. She acknowledged her regrets but placed them firmly in a context of whole of life experience. She may not have had the famous outcome often dreamed of, or the path of worldly success, but there had been wisdom and love and living fully, even in the pain and disappointment. She spoke of lessons learned and laughter shared, of adventures run and goals met. Her 70 years had been rich: not the
richness of possessions, but of understanding and that that was good.   
Joslin’s hands worked automatically in the symmetry and rhythm of an old pattern and familiar design. The tree almost took on a life of its own as the ornaments themselves seemed to sing in the freedom of being released from their confinement, until the whole tree glowed with shimmering completion. She hadn’t realized the time but as the music and stories of the tree built to a crescendo within her mind, she realized that the sun was just peeping in through her window.   With those first rays, she placed the star on the very top branch and recited an age-old commitment:
Christmas star, may you shine bright
and help me know what’s wrong or right
Illuminate my life with love
While you sparkle up above!

As she raised her head to gaze at the sparkling star, she felt released and free herself.
“Thankyou”, she said and she smiled.

About the author

Jo Nuske
Serene Spirit since Mar, 2016

The spiritual awareness “industry” has boomed since we first launched this website in 2009. My personal journey of learning began 52 years ago when psychic awareness was considered a mental disease. I love the acceptance that now embraces the worl...

Important : The Gathering Place is a place of safety. When joining the discussion or connecting with other members, be mindful that Serene Spirit, while promoting constructive and intelligent discussion and disagreement, will not tolerate prejudice or small-minded personal attacks. Perpetrators will be summarily ejected and banned and comments deleted to protect our member base. Click here to report innappropriate content
Create an article Create an article